Let’s talk business & technology

The Small to Medium Enterprise sector in South Africa is under a lot of pressure; the stubbornly high rate of unemployment requires that businesses become economically and societally successful in order to contribute to the country’s GDP and to create job opportunities.

Entrepreneurs are not exempt from this pressure. As a matter of opinion, it appears that the responsibility to convert the astounding failure of government(s) to create jobs and create scalable businesses into opportunities sits squarely on the very shoulders of aspiring and already achieved business men and women.

 

Of course, the conditions to achieve this economical and societal success aren’t the easiest to overcome (and perhaps they aren’t supposed to be), otherwise everyone would pursue entrepreneurship and the world would be an oyster.

Here are some of these conditions that I’m referring to:

  • Job seekers still prefer corporate careers;
  • The second recession since ’94 has dropped confidence in the economy;
  • For many reasons (risk, society, etc) there’s a low tolerance for failure of entrepreneurs;
  • There are expected discrepancies between funding mandates & entrepreneur’s eligibility;
  • The oversupply of entrepreneurs in saturated markets is not showing signs of decline;
  • Overwhelming failures by Enterprise Development initiatives to realize real transformation;
  • The easily accessible forms of capital require security and collateral that entrepreneurs lack;
  • Attracting & retaining top talent is increasingly difficult within small business; and
  • Priority sectors getting government support are capital intensive and often monopolized.

 

South African businesses, small and large, that have garnered an appreciation for these conditions understand the value of the competitive advantage offered by technology. The result of this is seen in industry leaders across various sectors such as insurance and financial services; over the past few years, they demonstrated how the power of digitalisation can directly drive positive over-all growth and impact a business’ bottom-line.

It goes without saying that entrepreneurs, managers and customers respectively recognize technology as a tool for growth, to operate effectively and engaging businesses.

However, I’m not purporting that technology/digitalisation will soon be an answer to everything. We must recognize that accessing markets, networks and the necessary early stage financial support is as important to empowering businesses in a way that guarantees that is aligned and desirable to the nation’s 2030 ambitions.

I’m not the first, but I’m purporting that we adopt the aggressive mindset that says we’re to take advantage of the tools and opportunities that are near us, economically exploit these opportunities in a way that ensures meaningful economic participation & positive societal impact and build an ecosystem of financial & high moral value exchange.

What are your thoughts? Let’s talk business & technology…

@TsholoSehume on popular social platforms

By: Tsholo Sehume (MaruAfrica, CEO) – 19 January 2019


Image Src: The Real Estate of South African Entrepreneurship (www.seedengine.co.za)

10 ‘Must Have’ Tools for African Startups & Small/Medium Business to remain competitive (PART 2)

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to break the bank on great systems for your small business to get started.
You simply need to find relevant technology to creatively and efficiently help you get your hustle on! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s that easy for a startup or small/medium business to thrive in Africa. I’ll do my best to keep this short and informative.

This is PART 2. You can read part 1 here

So, here we go:

6. File Storage & Synchronisation (Google Drive)

Storing documents to allow for easy collaboration has always been a bit tricky for teams working together on a project, but no longer with Google Drive, Google’s cloud based office suite. Drive includes a word processor (Google Docs), spreadsheets (Google Sheets), a presentation program (Google Slides), and a form builder (Google Forms). We’ve compiled a list of a few of the reasons we love Google Drive and some tools that can make it even more powerful.

The nicest thing so far as I’m concerned, about Google Drive, is that it is FREE and comes with:

  • Document processing capabilities for (‘Word’, ‘Excel’ and ‘Powerpoint’)
  • A familiar and easy to use interface
  • 15GB disk space
  • Collaboration capabilities
  • Forms and surveys

This means you can get started writing proposals, presenting presentations, recording numbers of a spreadsheet, and much much more without having to spend a single cent on Licenses. Learn more about Google Drive

7. MailChimp

MailChimp is a marketing automation platform and an email marketing service. It provides marketing automation for e-commerce businesses. Send beautiful emails, connect your e-commerce store, advertise, and build your brand.

It is an incredible and free tool that can help you reach many clients through periodic e-newsletters. We always recommend MailChimp for this purpose, and here are some compelling reasons for doing so.
  •  It’s easy to see who has opened your e-mail and how many times. This means you can quickly see who’s engaging with you the most and prioritise them for follow up through your sales pipeline.
  • It’ll help you write more interesting content. By checking the “click rate” on articles you can see what’s appealing to your readers – and what’s not.
  • It can help you to track the performance of your newsletter i.e. How many customers opened it, etc. If you link your Woo Commerce to MailChimp you can use advanced e-commerce responders to monitor your customers’ progress. If they abandon their shopping cart, you can send them an autoresponder to help close the deal.

8. VoIP (Make Calls using Data & cheaper airtime)

Competitiveness

VoIP services are generally more price competitive than the incumbent fixed line providers. Savings can be achieved through more cost effective line rentals, as well as discounted call rates. VoIP providers also offer a substantial discount when calling between branches or other users on their network (known as On-Network). It is becoming clear that traditional telco providers cannot compete with Voice over IP (VoIP ).

Complete Portability

The beauty of Voice over IP is that you can take the service with you, make and receive calls from anywhere provided you have internet connection.

Flexibility and Scalability

You are able to have more than one phone number on a single internet broadband line, and adding additional lines only requires increasing the size of the internet line – allowing superior scalability on the fly.

You have the option of incorporating extra features into your service – quickly and easily! These extras include features such as Hunting Facility, Direct line numbers, Caller ID, etc which are often standard features with a VoIP service.

Location independence

For Incoming Calls, your VoIP number could be Non-Geographic (i.e. 087) it is not tied to a specific area or line – you could appear to be a national company and can keep the same number wherever you go. You do however also have the option for other numbers such as 010, 020, etc – just enquire with your provider.

 

 

9. Sage One Accounting (The simplest and most cost effective way to get a handle on your finances)

Sage One empowers South Africa’s small businesses. Free yourself from admin with clever, easy features, built around you.

 

Everything you need to take care of business.
From sales and purchases to cashflow, VAT and reporting, Sage One’s features support every step in your business process.
Your business, at your fingertips.
Take care of invoicing on the road, banking at the office and leave from home. Works with PCs, Macs, iOS, Android, and Windows.

From sales and purchases to cash flow, VAT and reporting, Sage One’s features support every step in your business process. Create quotes, and invoices in seconds, send them to your customers and track what they owe. Use budgets to keep track of your company’s performance against targets you have set.

 

 

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10. Others

Since there are so many tools out there that can help you handle your business better, I thought it best to just list other things to consider. So here goes:

  • Online Backup – because laptops get stolen, ‘smash and grab’ is a thing, disaster occur. We can offer you a solution that backs up your laptops, desktops, servers, etc. Consult online for free 
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – for example; do you have something in place to remind you of your best paying client’s birthday? I’ve oversimplified the use of a CRM here but it’s small things like following up on emails, knowing the stage you are on your sales process, setting reminders to make calls, etc.
  • Virtual Meetings – You need a combination of Visuals and Audio to host or participate in meetings that take place without you physically being there. The internet allows us to now collaborate from anywhere in the world, so long as we’re connected. Yes! If you are thinking Skype, it’s one such a tool. But there are others with more features and better suited for team collaboration.

Hey,

Thanks for reading, let’s continue this another time

 

10 ‘Must Have’ Tools for African Startups & Small/Medium Business to remain competitive (PART 1)

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to break the bank on great systems for your small business to get started.
You simply need to find relevant technology to creatively and efficiently help you get your hustle on! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s that easy for a startup or small/medium business to thrive in Africa. I’ll do my best to keep this short and informative.

I will share 2 lists: the 10 tools and another list from SARS (just as a reminder)…

So, here we go:

1. Have Online Presence (Website)

If you don’t have a website, your chance of ending up in customer online searches is significantly reduced. Most of us Google a company when we’re preparing for an interview or looking for products to buy or even checking if a company is ‘legitimate’. Today, there are more reasons for you to invest in online presence than ever before. A website is a TOOL  you can use to market and promote your business, products, yourself, and even use to trade. Here are some facts:

  • A website increases your credibility & it’s your online “first impression”
  • 46% of the world’s population (3,42 bn) has internet access
  • Your competitors probably already have a website
  • Your website will promote you 24 hours 7 days a week

Learn how your website is found on Google and how you can get an amazing website, packed with features, from as little as R1500 a year

2. Tawk.To

tawk.to is jam packed with all the features you need to provide winning customer support – it is lightning fast, reliable and scalable.

If you already use live chat on your site, there really is no reason to keep paying per agent! This sweet tool allows you to message your customers in Real Time.

Tawk to is a free messaging app that lets you monitor and chat with visitors on your website, mobile app or from a free customizable page. We use it on a daily basis.

 

3. eCommerce Plugin (Use your website to sell your products)

If you’re a small business owner looking for an e-commerce solution, look no further than WooCommerce by WooThemes, one of the most versatile WordPress plugins, and one of the most popular.  Since its launch in 2011, more than 1.6 million businesses in the U.S., the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China and India have downloaded Woocommerce, a testament to the many Woocommerce benefits for small business.  From its user-friendly experience to its flexibility and customisation options, Woocommerce continues to be the smart choice for smart designers—and smart businesses. Understand WooCoomerce in 2,5 minutes (Check the Video)

 

Some of the benefits include:

  • Well, for one, it’s free & easy to use
  • It Includes an Intuitive, Built-in Analytics System
  • It Offers A lot of Flexibility
  • Integrating with Multiple Payment Gateways

Which brings me to the next point

4. Accepting Online Payments (Payment Gateways)

A payment gateway is a merchant service provided by an e-commerce application service provider that authorizes credit card or direct payments processing for e-businesses, online retailers, bricks and clicks, or traditional brick and mortar.

A payment gateway facilitates the transfer of information between a payment portal (such as a website, mobile phone) and the Front End Processor or acquiring bank

Choosing your payment gateway is an important part of the process of setting up your ecommerce store. As the payment gateways have different pricing models, it is important to pick one that suits your business, and provides the features and security that will ensure that users can easily and securely transact with your store.

We have successfully intergrate multiple gateways onto our own and clients’ websites, these include:

 

5. Messaging for Teams (Slack)

 

Since the advent of the World Wide Web, the opportunity for collaboration has been one of its most touted features. Enter Slack! The innovative “team communication” solution offers groundbreaking functionality that is just too useful to pass up.

So, if you’re asking yourself, “What is Slack and how do I use it for my team?” 

As a simple instant messaging system, Slack has all the collaboration features you need in place. It’s when you throw in integration that things really get exciting. It’s the foundation for teamwork.

  • It simplifies communication
  • It helps everyone find the answers they need
  • It streamlines your workflows

 


Alright, the end… But one last thing….

Remember that there are basics that you also need to take care of. For example SARS put this on their website

  • Register with CIPC
  • Register for Income Tax
  • Register and do eFiling
  • Do your income tax as an individual
  • Do your payroll taxes as a business
  • Do Record Keeping
  • Categorise your business
  • Managing your Tax Compliance Status with SARS
  • Be a Representative for your tax matters
  • Do Turn-over Tax & Do Value-added Tax (VAT)
  • Check if your Tax Practitioner is registered and more.

 

We’ll add part 2 next week

Technology has changed our lives, including how we do business…

Technology affects almost every aspect of our lives. When you look around you will see that everything is connected, and if not…. it will soon be! This is all thanks to the Internet, virtually anything you desire can be delivered to your door in a matter of days.

You do virtually anything, even trade stocks, kiss, teach or file taxes online. Business owners don’t need to lose sleep about the location of their fleet or parcels; and so on and so forth… We’ve all heard this story before and how it goes.

So, it’s a fact, our personal lives have changed, the business world has revolutionized almost beyond recognition in the past few decades and technology is at the heart of it all.

The question this article is answering is “what technology is Maru providing to make sure our customers are benefitting from this shift” — and we mean the advances in communication and information technology — has changed the face and the pace of business.

Straight to the point:

  1. You can make and receive ‘landline’ calls from anywhere in the world by using Maru VoIP. This means you never miss a business call! See details here: https://www.maru.africa/maru-sip-voip-service/
  2. Give your business online presence and market it 24/7 by building a website for it. It may shock you to learn that it won’t cost you more than R1500 a year. Try it here: https://www.maru.africa/mahala-diy/
  3. Send e-mail from your business domain e.g. myname@yourbusiness.co.za (E-mail hosting: https://www.maru.africa/webmail-hosting/)
  4. You need to have someone ready to answer questions and help you out when technology becomes a headache. Maru free online consultation and support systems are available to you on any device: https://www.maru.africa/free-online-consultation/

There’s a very nice document on Wikipedia about Mobile Enterprises here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_enterprise

We also know that Entrepreneurship, especially, is a lifestyle and technology should help make this pleasurable. Read these tips

 

 

Web Design Intern

Web Design Intern

About the Job:

We work with companies spanning a diverse set of industries: Financial Services, Real Estate, Technology, Lifestyle, Health & Fitness, Retail, Government, Advocacy, Non Profit, B2B, Legal, Creative…
If there’s a story to tell, a business to promote and a brand to introduce to the digital world, we’re there to make it happen.

Company Description:

MaruAfrica (Pty) Ltd is a growing hosting and value added telecommunications services start-up company headquartered at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria. We use our knowledge and understanding of technology to build solutions with business and societal relevance.

With every project, our goal is to find new and compelling ways to bring brand stories to life by using websites in a way that engages the right audiences and drives action — and do so in a way that makes them care, desire, trust, and connect.

Job Description:

MaruAfrica is looking for a Website Design Intern who will provide essential support for website development projects currently in progress. This position will provide valuable real-life experience working in a fast paced, creative work environment.

Under the direction of our Project Manager, and with one-on-one training with our website design team, the Intern with a keen eye for design will work with our team to solve problems and build innovative web solutions. You will contribute to a wide range of projects and will participate in all stages of design, development, testing, implementation, and maintenance.

We are looking for 20 hours/week time commitment, with a potential to hire on part time this fall.

Previous experience in HTML5, CSS3 and Adobe Suite is required. Any knowledge of WordPress, JavaScript, JQuery or PHP is a huge plus. The right candidate will possess an eagerness to identify, learn, and use new and emerging technologies.

The right candidate will be a quick study, with the ability to work independently and complete assigned tasks on time or ahead of schedule. Prior experience with WordPress is beneficial, though not mandatory, for this position. An eye for design will help to succeed in this position.

Personal skills/attributes

  • Team Player
  • Ability to work independently but under guidance
  • Strong problem-solving and decision-making ability
  • Strong time management and people skills
  • High energy, positive attitude
  • Attention to detail
  • Professional work ethic
  • Keen to learn
  • Ability to gather feedback/criticism and translate into finished product

Requirements

  • Up to 1 years’ graphic/web design experience – preferable
  • Degree or diploma in web design or multimedia/graphic design – preferable
  • A very strong sense of visual design
  • Excellent knowledge of Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign, and Illustrator)
  • Experience in designing wireframes – preferable
  • Solid knowledge of web standards, cross-browser compatibility, and accessibility
  • Solid knowledge of search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Experience in WordPress, Bootstrap, HTML, and CSS
  • Strong eye for detail, typography and colour
  • Knowledge of current design and tech trends

MaruAfrica Perks & Benefits:

– Commitment required (minimum 30 hours per week)
– Compensation: Academic Credit & Transportation Stipend
– Our office is located at the Innovation Hub in Lynwood, Pretoria (nice, huh?)
– Music plays constantly – enjoy it

 

IF YOU THINK THIS JOB IS FOR YOU

Independent Sales Representative

Part-Time Independent Sales Representative Contract

MaruAfrica has openings for motivated individuals operating in South Africa with customer service experience who want to be part of a fast growing website hosting, connectivity and development company. Potential candidates must be comfortable working independently and as part of a team in website and hosting sales through business networking.

Company and Job Overview:

MaruAfrica is a leading Internet Services Provider (ISP) with offices in Pretoria, Gauteng and a satellite office in Itsoseng, North West. We have been in business for 5 years providing custom website design, website hosting, and VoIP and connectivity services. We are passionate to help local businesses increase their online marketing efforts and effectiveness.

The right candidate will be outgoing, have a strong understanding of website and online marketing, and enjoys connecting with people.

As an independent sales contractor, you will be selling the Mahala Web Design Hosting package, Web Design and Web Hosting Services. You will earn a share of revenue from each account you bring in, and residual annual commission on all Mahala and Website hosting account sales.

Job Highlights:

  • Work from home; weekly/monthly staff meetings.
  • High commission base.
  • Digital business cards, marketing and promotional materials provided.
  • Strong company history, reputation, and portfolio along with name recognition locally.
  • Association with a number of local Brands and Chambers of Commerce.
  • Office space and conference in Pretoria, Lynwood available for client meetings.

The Independent Sales Representative will consult with small to medium sized business owners about their online advertising and marketing needs. Employee must be able to handle all aspects of the sales process, including identifying target clients, analyzing a company’s website needs, showcasing MaruAfrica’s portfolio and explaining website features, closing the sale, and maintaining customer relationships.

Responsibilities include: 

  • Responding to all leads provided by MaruAfrica. This includes arranging in-person or phone meetings, speaking with potential customers about their website needs, and closing sales.
  • Finding new leads through networking, trade shows or conventions, and local advertising.
  • (This one is up to you) 6-8 hours/week attending other networking events to increase company exposure and generate referrals.
  • Identifying prospective clients and working to find leads given specific target markets; generating new leads through networking and referrals.
  • Following up with prospective customers and selling new website features or services to current customers.
  • Promoting some of MaruAfrica’s current and ongoing marketing efforts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blog posts, E-mail Newsletters, and other marketing campaigns.
  • Periodic cold calling lead generation (recommended for reaching sales quota).
  • Professional company representation; website design portfolio and service overview presentation.
  • Monthly reports summarizing prospects, appointments, and schedule (use of CRM software may assist with this).
  • Meeting monthly sales quotas.

Minimum Qualifications & Experience:

  • THE MOST IMPORTANT: MUST HAVE A WINNING ATTITUDE 
  • Must have B2B company experience.
  • 2 years experience selling products, advertisement, or print preferred.
  • Experience with lead pre-qualification, list management, and digital campaign management.
  • Outgoing personality with strong interpersonal skills.
  • Strong computer skills, internet savvy, and ability to learn new skills with training.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • A strong work ethic: self-disciplined and self-motivated.
  • Organized, detail-oriented, consistently follow up on sales leads.
  • Motivated to make money.

Personal skills/attributes

  • Team Player
  • Ability to work independently but under guidance
  • Strong problem-solving and decision-making ability
  • Strong time management and people skills
  • High energy, positive attitude
  • Attention to detail
  • Professional work ethic
  • Keen to learn
  • Ability to gather feedback/criticism and translate into finished product

Having these could work to your advantage

  • BS degree in Marketing, Business or equivalent related field.
  • 3-5+ years of experience in progressive acquisition, lead generation, or digital marketing roles.
  • WordPress, SEO experience; including managing external SEO vendor.

IF YOU THINK THIS JOB IS FOR YOU

Become an Affiliate – Earn extra income

Overview

Earn extra cash with your blog, website or email newsletter.

Making money as an affiliate is a snap. Just place one of our banners or links where your visitors, customers and friends will see it and you’ll earn cash on every qualifying sale made through your ads. Get started by joining one of our partner affiliate networks.

  • Choose from a wide selection of banner and text ads that fit your site.
  • Get paid by direct deposit or check.
  • No cost or minimum purchases – you have nothing to lose!

Unlimited earning potential!
You’ll receive R50 commission on nearly all product sales* made through your affiliate link.

What is an affiliate program?

Our affiliate program pays you for sending your customers to our website. Affiliate marketing programs like ours don’t require any fees and are easy to set up, so there’s no risk to you.

What should I look for in an affiliate program?

The best affiliate programs center on products that are in high demand like domains, hosting, and related products and services. Look for a program that pays out well and that offers great support in case you have questions. It’s a plus if the brand is widely recognized.

Team up with South Africa’s fast growing MVNO

Join MaruAfrica’s domain and hosting affiliate programs – you’ll not only benefit from the credibility of our brand but create new sources of income with very little effort.

Contact Us via affiliates@maru.africa

Click the link below for Full Details